Chasing the Last Laugh

That’s when he famously quipped: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Throughout his quest, Twain was aided by cutthroat Standard Oil tycoon H.H. Rogers, with whom he had struck a deep friendship, and he was hindered by his ...

Author: Richard Zacks

Publisher: Anchor

ISBN: 9780385536455

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 464

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From Richard Zacks, bestselling author of Island of Vice and The Pirate Hunter, a rich and lively account of how Mark Twain’s late-life adventures abroad helped him recover from financial disaster and family tragedy—and revived his world-class sense of humor Mark Twain, the highest-paid writer in America in 1894, was also one of the nation’s worst investors. “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate,” he wrote. “When he can’t afford it and when he can.” The publishing company Twain owned was failing; his investment in a typesetting device was bleeding red ink. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars back when a beer cost a nickel, he found himself neck-deep in debt. His heiress wife, Livy, took the setback hard. “I have a perfect horror and heart-sickness over it,” she wrote. “I cannot get away from the feeling that business failure means disgrace.” But Twain vowed to Livy he would pay back every penny. And so, just when the fifty-nine-year-old, bushy-browed icon imagined that he would be settling into literary lionhood, telling jokes at gilded dinners, he forced himself to mount the “platform” again, embarking on a round-the-world stand-up comedy tour. No author had ever done that. He cherry-picked his best stories—such as stealing his first watermelon and buying a bucking bronco—and spun them into a ninety-minute performance. Twain trekked across the American West and onward by ship to the faraway lands of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, India, Ceylon, and South Africa. He rode an elephant twice and visited the Taj Mahal. He saw Zulus dancing and helped sort diamonds at the Kimberley mines. (He failed to slip away with a sparkly souvenir.) He played shuffleboard on cruise ships and battled captains for the right to smoke in peace. He complained that his wife and daughter made him shave and change his shirt every day. The great American writer fought off numerous illnesses and travel nuisances to circle the globe and earn a huge payday and a tidal wave of applause. Word of his success, however, traveled slowly enough that one American newspaper reported that he had died penniless in London. That’s when he famously quipped: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Throughout his quest, Twain was aided by cutthroat Standard Oil tycoon H.H. Rogers, with whom he had struck a deep friendship, and he was hindered by his own lawyer (and future secretary of state) Bainbridge Colby, whom he deemed “head idiot of this century.” In Chasing the Last Laugh, author Richard Zacks, drawing extensively on unpublished material in notebooks and letters from Berkeley’s ongoing Mark Twain Project, chronicles a poignant chapter in the author’s life—one that began in foolishness and bad choices but culminated in humor, hard-won wisdom, and ultimate triumph.

How Not to Get Rich

181 “merely expecting”: Richard Zacks, Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour (New York: Doubleday, 2016), 365. “could get my living”: Leary, Correspondence with H. H. Rogers, 328.

Author: Alan Pell Crawford

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 9780544836464

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 240

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A detailed and humorous account of the various disastrous money schemes and entrepreneurial pursuits of Mark Twain, who was noted for his spectacularly bad financial decisions during the Gilded Age

Mark Twain the World and Me

Mark Twain and Money: Language, Capital, and Culture. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2017. Zacks, Richard. Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour. New York: Doubleday, 2016.

Author: Susan K. Harris

Publisher: University Alabama Press

ISBN: 9780817359676

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 184

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"Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American literary studies Susan K. Harris retraced the journey of the literary icon as he made his way around the British Empire on his infamous 1895-1896 lecture tour. Part biography, part literary criticism, and part travel memoir, Harris' study offers a unique take on one of America's most widely studied writers while attempting to situate Mark Twain's social commentary within a contemporary worldview. As Harris makes her way through Australia, India, and South Africa-seeing for herself the people and places Twain experienced-she also undertakes a journey of self-exploration and what her relationship with Mark Twain means. After his disastrous investment in the Paige Compositor typesetting machine, Mark Twain found himself bankrupt. Determined to repay his debts, he undertook a thirteen-month lecture tour around the British Empire-visiting Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, India, Mauritius, and South Africa. After the tour, Twain published Following the Equator, a travelogue in which he recorded his observations and social commentary on the places he visited. Although Twain was generally known to criticize racism, bigotry, and imperialism, his financial situation meant he was willing to write to his audience's expectations in order to sell more books. This lead to the imbuement of Following the Equator with the racial and cultural biases of the era. Following the Equator went on to be a success, virtually propelling him out of debt, but now contemporary scholars and readers are left to make sense of Twain's often inconsistent observations, to figure out how to situate Twain's legacy in a new era. 'Mark Twain, the World, and Me' aims to do just that. More than 100 years after Twain's journey, Susan K. Harris follows him through Australia, India, and South America, tracing the themes and issues present in Following the Equator, addressing them head on, and using them as an occasion for comparing his era to our own. Her account covers a variety of topics, such as the conundrum that Hinduism presented to Protestant Americans of the 19th century, the clash of civilizations between Australian Aborigines and white settlers, the environmental devastation brought on by settler eradication policies, and more"--

The Life of Mark Twain

Richard Zacks's Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour (2016) chronicles Sam's 1895–96 North American, Australasian, and African lecture trip, and Carl Dolmetsch's “Our Famous Guest”: ...

Author: Gary Scharnhorst

Publisher: University of Missouri Press

ISBN: 9780826274007

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 724

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This book begins the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. In the succeeding years, Clemens biographers have either tailored their narratives to fit the parameters of a single volume or focused on a particular period or aspect of Clemens’s life, because the whole of that epic life cannot be compressed into a single volume. In The Life of Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst has chosen to write a complete biography plotted from beginning to end, from a single point of view, on an expansive canvas. With dozens of Mark Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of Clemens interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located documents relevant to Clemens’s life in Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and in the West, including some which have been presumed lost. Over three volumes, Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination.

Genus Americanus

Twain, Mark. The Five Jumps of the Calaveras Frog. Angels Camp, Calif.: Angels Camp Museum, 2010. —. How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson. ... Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour.

Author: Loren Ghiglione

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

ISBN: 9780820358017

Category: Travel

Page: 360

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A seventy-year-old Northwestern journalism professor, Loren Ghiglione, and two twenty-something Northwestern journalism students, Alyssa Karas and Dan Tham, climbed into a minivan and embarked on a three-month, twenty-eight state, 14,063-mile road trip in search of America’s identity. After interviewing 150 Americans about contemporary identity issues, they wrote this book, which is part oral history, part shoe-leather reporting, part search for America’s future, part memoir, and part travel journal. On their journey they retraced Mark Twain’s travels across America—from Hannibal, Missouri, to Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle. They hoped Twain’s insights into the late nineteenth-century soul of America would help them understand the America of today and the ways that our cultural fabric has shifted. Their interviews focused on issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status. The timely trip occurred as the United States was poised to replace president Barack Obama, an icon of multiculturalism and inclusion, with Donald Trump, whose white-identity agenda promoted exclusion and division. What they learned along the way paints an engaging portrait of the country during this crucial moment of ideological and political upheaval.

Our Dogs Ourselves Young Readers Edition

Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour. 14 a man named Carl claimed “the name of Rock”: August 19, 1876. Chicago Field. 14 children's magazines from that time: 1879–1880.

Author: Alexandra Horowitz

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781534410138

Category: Juvenile Nonfiction

Page: 224

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This middle grade adaptation of Our Dogs, Ourselves is an eye-opening, entertaining, and beautifully illustrated look at humans’ complicated and sometimes contradictory relationship with man’s best friend by New York Times bestselling author of Inside of a Dog. We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. Even while we see ourselves in dogs, we also treat them in surprising ways. On the one hand, we let them into our beds, we give them meaningful names, make them members of our family, and buy them the best food, toys, accessories, clothes, and more. But we also shape our dogs into something they aren’t meant to be. Purebreeding dogs has led to many unhealthy pups. Many dogs have no homes, or live out their lives in shelters. How is it possible we can treat the same species in these two totally different ways? In Our Dogs, Ourselves—Young Readers Edition, bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs.